The Thought of Mao Tse-Tung

Dublin Core


The Thought of Mao Tse-Tung


Politics and Government - Military; Chinese Communist Party; CCP; People - Historical Figures - Mao; People - Politicians - Mao; Mao Zedong


Reprinted from Amerasia, June, 1947.
Transcript of the text in the pamphlet:

The following is an excerpt from The thought of Mao Tse- tung, despite its Anna Louise Strong ern- wide influence, has never been clearly and concerns a special f u l l summarized abroad. It has reached dj after working at the outside world spasmodically, with long It is " The Thought intermissions, due to the blockade of war. In America, people still raise the childish terviews with yenan antithesis: '' Are the Chinese Communists ; after the article was followers of MOSCOWor are they what the into Chinese and West calls ' democrats'?" The answer is that e but for the colonial coun-they are neither, though to some extent they are a little of both. They are Chinese try-ins to solve the bitter problems of China, using their own ideas and also any valid ideas they find in the West. Specifically they use the method of social analysis known as Marxism. Because they are Chinese, apply-ing their thought to Chinese problems, their policies and even their concepts of Marx-ism have increasingly diverged from the European ( pattern. Their thought is not dependent, but creative. Its creative quality comes, first of all, from Mao Tse- tuns. " Mao Tse- tung's great accomplishment has been to change Marxism from a Euro-pean to an Asiatic form," said Liu Hsiao- chi, whom the Chinese Communists consider their second greatest Marxist thinker, and to whom I went for an estimate of Mao's thought. " Marx and Lenin were Europeans; they wrote in European languages about European histories and problems, seldom dis-cussing Asia or China. The basic principles of Marxism are undoubtedly adaptable to all countries, but to apply their general truth to concrete revolutionary practices in China is a difficult task. Mao Tse- tung is Chinese; he analyzes Chinese problems and guides the Chinese people in their struggle to victory. He uses Marxist- Leninist principles problems of China. He is the first that has succeeded in doing so. Not only has he ap-plied Marxist methods to solve the problems of 450 million people, but he has thus pop-ularized Marxism among the Chinese people as a weapon for them to use. On every kind of ~ roblem- the nation, the peasants, strat-egy, the construction of the party, literature and culture, military affairs, finance and economy, methods of work, philosophy- Mao has not only applied Marxism to new conditions but has given it a new develop-ment. He has created a Chinese or Asiatic form of Marxism. China is a semi- feudal, semi- colonial country in which vast num-bers of people live at the edge of starvation, tilling small bits of soil. Its economy is agricultural, backward, and dispersed. In attempting the transition to a more indus-trialized economy, China faces the competi-tion and the pressures- economic, political, and military- of advanced industrial lands. This is the basic situation that affects both the relations of social classes and the methods of struggle towards any wch goal as na-tional independence and g, better, freer life for the Chinese. There are similar condi-tions in other lands of southeast Asia. The courses chosen by China will influence them ail." The Chinese Communist Party, like other Communist parties, regards itself as the ad-vance group of the " proletariat." In China it considers itself the spokesman and leader for other classes as well, notably the peasants, the petty bourgeois, and the middle class of the cities and towns. Even the concept of the " proletariat" as a base for the Com-munis! Party is given a new meaning. Liu Hsiao- chi was quite explicit about it. Accord-ing to Marx, he said, the industrial work-he only class that can accept com-and brinpr it to fruition. This is working collectively in a factory with other workers. " All this applies to the western world" said Liu Hsiao- chi. " But in China we have only a few such people. Of our 450 million people, only two or three million can be called industrial workers, whom the im-perialist and capitalists are training to be the reserves of the Communist Party some day. Meanwhile Mao Tse- tung is training another two or three million from another kind of people who are not only no less dis-ciplined and devoted, but in fact perhaps even more disciplined and devoted than the industrial workers. " Take this ' little devil' who is bringing you tea and melon seeds and peanuts. He has been brought up and trained in this special, highly military Communist organ-ization of ours. It does not occur to him to ask for peanuts for himself. He knows that peanuts are limited, that they are for guests and for parties, and that he will only get them at some birthday party, not be-fore. He knows that he will get food of whatever kind we have enough of, and a summer uniform and a winter uniform. He does not ask any more. He is happy because he is a comrade among comrades, because he is respected as a human being, because he is fighting for a better life for all the people in China, in which he too will share. " China has only a few industrial work- , ers to be the foundation of communism but we have millions of kids like this. Such people were never known by Marx, but they are brought up in the spirit of communism. Their discipline and devotion to public af-fairs is no less than that of industrial work-ers. They give their lives to the fight against foreign imperialism and native oppressors even when very young. They fight now for the ' new democracy' but if in the future it is time to build socialism, they will be ready to build it. If it is time for communism, they will be ready for that also. Only one thing they will not build or accept- the for several reasons; 1) they own no s of production; 2) they live by selling labor- power; 3) they are disciplined by 162 forms of capitalism. They have never dreamed of making a profit. oday we are building capitalism, but it ' new capitalism.' Capitalism is needed to break down the semi- feudal, semi- colonial society in which we live today. We en-courage free initiative, we encourage capi-talist profit. But we do not permit the for-mation of monopolistic capital. Meanwhile we have a administered economy and an extensive cooperative economy, both of which are very important. As the core of this ' new democracyy and ' new capital-ism' we have three million people- the army, the party, and the government- who have lived for twenty years in what might be called ' military communism.' It is not the ' military communism' they had in Russia, for here it is applied only to this leading group. These are some of the inventions of the inese Communist Party; they are created by the genius of Mao Tse- tung." listed for me many other " inventions ' scoveries:" the role of peasants in the ution, the " united front" among classes, strategy and system of supply, etc. s revolution is a peasant revolution. characteristic is that the peasants he workers) form the principal mass resists the oppression of foreign capital of the left- over mediaeval elements in e Chinese countryside. In the past, Marxist analysis has not been applied to guide such a revolution. Peasant revolts in past history lacked discipline and cohesion- and failed. Mao Tse- tung develops the theoretical basis f the peasant revolution. As one egample, says that " democracy" must be a " peas-ts' democracy" with voting forms adapted o the vast numbers of illiterate peasants, who vote by dropping a bean in a candi-date's bowl. He overcomes the traditional weakness of peasant revolutions by the co-hesion, discipline, and devotion of the high-ly developed organization described above. he " united front" between classes is a t over which Communist parties in all lands have struggled. " You must unite with them on certain points and struggle against them on others," explained Liu. " Our mis-take in 1927 was that we only united with the bourgeoisie but did not struggle against it; so the bourgeoisie gained its aims and re-jected ours. In the years immediately fol-lowing, we made the opposite mistake; we only struggled against the bourgeoisie but found no way to unite even with the small town merchants. To know when and on & at points to unite and when and on what points to struggle weds careful and constant analysis. We unite with Chinese capitalists against the Japanese invasion, against foreign imperialism and Chinese compradors, against feudalism; we struggle against any attempts of capitalists to oppress workers or to com-promise with imperialism and feudalism. We have, in other words, a policy of uniting with the capitalists and struggling against them at the same time.'' The Chinese Communists actually advo-cate cooperation between capitalists and lab-or, under certain conditions. There is no hint of such cooperation in Marxist works; Lenin spoke of it once, only to oppose it. " Such cooperation really betrays the inter-ests of the workers in the older capitalist lands," said Liu Hsiao- chi. " But in semi-colonial lands like China, the workers have common interests with capitalists against for-eign monopolistic capital and native bureau-cratic capital. Cooperation can then be in the interests of the workers. In China's na-tional industry, the workers should strive , - to increase production, while the capitalists should improve the living conditions of the i workers; only under such conditions can the national industry avoid being destroyed. This is one of our industrial policies, and is ap-plied in all three kinds of industry, publicly owned, privately owned, and cooperative." The Communist military strategy, which enabled them to start with an army of 3,000 men, and attain, after twenty years of fighting, an army of 1,500,000 men, all A M E R A S I A , J U N E N I N E T E E N F O R T Y - S E V E N the time drawing military supplies and even to carry on war for twenty years a man- power from the enemy, is also based carry it on till final victory." on Mao Tse- tung's analysis. It will be par- I myself saw a convincing tially discussed ' below, but no complete des- this in the Four Province Liberated cription can be given. " It is not yet time the heart of North China, where to furnish a blue- print to the enemy," said Liu Po- cheng, defending an area o Liu. " Let them learn it bit by bit. The 30 million people, fought 3923 " minor an Japanese learned it, but it took them eight major engagements" in 1946, wiping out years and by that time it was no use to them. nearly eighteen of the forty - nine Kuomin- Chiang now uses Okamura, former com- tang brigades that attacked the area-mander- in- chief of the Japanese forces in Chiang7s forces, however, sLW3xk. d in oc- China, as advisor in Nanking. . . . But now cupying a of county towns. The officer we are using new strategy against Chiang." in charge of " new mobilization" explained The " labor exchange brigade," which in that it wnh- l be quite possible to mobilize creased the productivity of farming in the enough men to take all those towns back, Communist areas during the hardest years but that an army of such a size would un-of the anti- Japanese war, was another in- duly burden the population of the area. Since vention by Mao, based upon a study of the civil war might last for many years, they forms of peasant labor- including a type of were adjusting their army to a size which mutual help that went back more than a the area could maintain indefinitely, and thousand years, known as the " squads of the which would be strong enough to defend the Tang Dynasty Generals." Usually there are basic farm life of the area, even if not all two ways to improve the productivity of the towns. They were, moreover, drawing primitive peasant farming; the capitalist way their new recruits from only a few counties, of Europe and America, or the collective saving the other counties for possible future farming of the USSR. The Chinese Com- needs, so that, even in a long war, they munists can not use either now. Their labor- would not have to recruit from the same exchange brigade employs cooperative , county twice. This careful budgeting of methods of farm production on a founda- supply and man- power is almost without pre-tion of individual ownership. cedent in war. The Communists expect The supply system that enabled the Yenan Chiang Kai- shek to go bankrupt from war Border Region to survive both a Japanese inflation, and to face revolts from his over-war and a Kuomintang blockade and that burdened peasants. They are confident that made it possible for the many anti- Japanese this will not happen with them. bases scattered behind the Japanese lines in à ‡  ¥ North China to live and grow into the mighty " Liberated Areas," was worked out through Mao Tse- tung's analysis of condi-tions in the rural areas. It is a system by which the personnel of army and govern-ment is not paid in money but draws part of its food from taxation and part from joint productive work. " By this method," said Liu, " we can support an army and govern-ment staff of two or three million without too seriously burdening the people's liveli-hood. With this system we have been able V\ HE Chinese Communist Party was al-ways heroic," said Lu Ting- yi, chief of the Information Department of the Cen-tral Committee, " but many mistakes were made in the leadership in getting experience. They were costly mistakes and so they have taught us to avoid such mistakes later. Our membership was 50,000 in the Great Revo-lution; sank to 10,000 after the counter-revolution and massacres by Chiang Kai-shek; it tose to 300,000 in the Kiangsi Soviet E T H O U G H T O F M A 0 T S E - T U N G period, and sank again to 40,000 after the Long March. Our Red Army during the early civil war reached 300,000 and sank to 40,000 after the Long March. These losses were due to mistaken policies of our lead-ers, before the leadership of Mao Tse- tung developed. Today we have a party member-ship of 2,200,000; we have a regular army of more than a million and a half, and armed village militia add another four mil-lion." The Chinese Communists distinguish three periods in their history: the Great Revo-lution, carried forward jointly by Kuomin-tang and Communists but broken by the split in 1927 ; the agrarian revolution and civil war, which ended with the " Sian in-cident" of December 12, 1936; and the period of Anti- Japanese Resistance, which marred by clashes of civil war from onward but was not officially terrnin-all China only a few dozen mem-bers. In 1923 the Communists, by agree-ment with Sun Yat- sen, entered the Kuomin-tmg in a body, while retaining their own organization. Their special task was to or-ganize workers and peasants. They had 15,- 000 members by 1925. Communists now see it, was his " submission to the bourgeoisie," specifically to Chiang Kai- shek. When the Joint Kuomintang- Com-munist forces were still in Canton, and had not yet driven to power across China, Chiang began his attacks on the Communidts. In March, 1926, he arrested the captain of a war vessel for being a Communist and an-nounced that all high officers and political workers in the army who were Communists must be removed. That was the time, the Communists think now, to have made their stand. They had helped organize the Kuo-mintang armed forces so successfully that three of the four armies in Canton were largely under Communist influence, while there was Comn~ unist sympathy even in the fourth. Many Communists wished to oppose Chiang's " purge" but Chen Tu- hsiu sub-mitted. Three months later he submitted again to the Kuomintang's May 5th decision to exclude Communists from all leading posi-tions in the Kuomintang organizations, though many of these had been organized by the Communists. " This policy left the Communists unpre-pared to resist Chiang's counter- revolution which began with the massacre of the Shang-hai workers on April 12, 1927," said Lu Ting- yi. There was still a chance in Wuhan, where more than half of the Kuomintang Central Committee still cooperated with the Communists in the Wuhan Government through the summer of 1927. Chen Tu- hsiu still retreated. He allowed the workers' pick-ets to be disarmed in the Wuhan cities. He opposed the agrarian revolution; it took place against his will. When the warlord in Changsha set up a military dictatorship, and 100,000 armed peasants surrounded the city, all set to take it over in the name of Wuhan, the Kuomintang members in the Wuhan government were frightened by this " power of the people," and under their de-mand, the Central Committee of the Com-munist Party ordered the peasants to disband. This retreat of the Communists left the workers and peasants leaderless, and made possible the July counter- revolution in Wu-han. Another mistake, as the Communists now see it, took place after the August 1st Nan-chang uprising. " We had strong armies there; we should have held Nanchang or at least formed a strong base in the rural dis-tricts near it. . . . But we were inexperienced; we did not think we could hold that area. A M E R A S I A , J U N E N I N E T E E N F O R T Y - S E V E N We started south to Canton out of an ' old also start uprisings in Shanghai an home' feeling for the birth- place of the Rev- king. They considered that the transit! olution. We were defeated near Swatow in through the democratic revolution to a fierce battle; our army was disperse lution would be rapid, and wasted. Only about one thousand m n. Their " socialist pol thered around Chu Teh when he mo ated the small town merchants. into Hunan to join Mao Tse- tung." The Communist Party " corrected" this Leadership changed in the Chinese C in August 1930, but five months later, munist Party after the collapse of W 1931, a group now known as the Chen Tu- hsiu was replaced by a succ ' gained control, with a policy of others. " After the mistakes of Chen to the left. Many of these had hsiu, we swung too far to the left an d, especially in Moscow, and a series of mistakes; in the other di is the way the Communists see it today. n in great detail. Their ig- The " mistakes of the left" were ractical problems of China tinuous; hey occurred three ti They Imintained the " pure shorter or longer periods. The firs ' permitting " united was the launching of uprisings i e. They land, cities in the winter of 1927- 28, E ds~ bu t of rich Peasants, by successful revolts in several vi us Op- " leftist leaders" refused to admit and demanded a " mod-of the Great Revolution, but declared that em army*" All these policies had a heavy mnayresvo lution was a overcoat of Marxist- Leninist phrases, in tion." They organized many revolts that had which the " dogmatists" were specialists. Their no chance of victory. The Chinese Cornmu- leadership lasted four Yean, until the now nists still consider that the great Canton re- historic Tsen- yi conference, held in ~ a n u a r ~ volt in December 1927 was justified as a 1935 in Kweichow, in the midst of the fa- " rearguard action to the Great Revolution, mous Long Ibfarch. which raised the flag of revolt and an- " The leadership of t nounced our program to the Chinese peo- very heavily," said Lu Ting- yi, giving the pie." Later uprisings at this time were of the Chinese ( Lxl- mlunists today. sheer waste, due to mistaken views of " en we were in Kiangsi we were offered leaders." united front with the Fukien general, who A second leftward swing, now conside osed Chiang's capitulation to the Japa-mistaken, was the " Li Li- san line" in and offered his alliance to us. Our dog-summer of 1930. At this time the guerri sts were too orthodox to build up a warfare in rural areas was developing s mted front with ' that bourgeois,' and thus cessfully under Mao Tse- tung and Chu Ost chance of We in-while wars had also broken out among re lged in too much positional warfare in tionary warlords. When the Red Army t angsi, especially against Chiang's Fifth Changsha in 1930 a " left" p u p of p xterrnination Campaign. With our present leaders thought that it was time for xperience, using Mao Tse- tung's technique large- scale action throughout the count ' dispersal,' we could have filtered through They mocked the revolutionary bases in ills past Chiang's blockhouses." lages as too far away and too unimpo en the Long March, the communists demanded that the Red Army engage i think, " could have bee* avoicled" by ular warfare and take the Wuhan citie ct tactics in Kian! iYi. No Communist T H E T H O U G H T O F M A 0 T S E - T U N G goes quite so far as to say that the Long March was " the result of a mistake." They feel, however, that it might well have ended in catastrophe had not the Party changed leadership in that January 1935 conference in Kweichow. Mao Tse- tung's leadership made of the Long March a victory, a mili-tary miracle, and brought them to Yenan. The Long March- and the mistaken policies in Kiangsi- cost heavy losses. The member-ship of the Chinese Communist Party, and the size of their Red Army, dropped from 300,000 in Kiangsi to 40,000 when they gathered in Yenan. Yenan as a base had both advantages and disadvantages. From Yenan the Communists were to spread, as a result of the anti- Japa-nese war, to a large part of North China and Manchuria. The Yenan Border Region itself, however, is an arid, economically back-ward region, which handicapped every ef-fort from the start. Could more have been done from a widened base in Kiangsi, with a seaport at Foochow? This is a futile con-jecture in which the Communists do not indulge. D URING these years and these losses, the " line of Mao Tse- tung" developed - a weapon tempered by fire and sharpened by blows. He was one of the earliest foun-ders of the Communist Party. He was a lead-er of that peasant revolution in Hunan that was dissolved in 1927 by orders of Chen Tu-hsiu. Later, combining the remnants of his " peasants self- defense corps" with the equally shattered remnants of Chu Teh's army, he became a leader of those slowly growing rural guerrillas who were " too trivial" for Li Li- san. As chairman of the Soviet Gov-ernment in Kiangsi, his views on practical matters carried weight, but the upper realms of party policy were still reserved for those dogmatists who had the prestige of foreign study. What did Mao know but the Chinese peasantry? Several practices of today's Communists date from Mao's theories of those early days. People that struggle with the difficult names of the Liberated Areas, which often include syllables from two, three, or four provinces, must have wondered what makes the Com-munist areas violate so frequently the old provincial boundaries. It was not chance, it was intention. Eighteen years ago, when pes-simists thought the Chinese Revolution over, while adventurers yearned to seize great cities, Mao Tse- tung declared that it was possible to create a Soviet district, but that this should be done in the hilly areas where the boundaries of provinces met. Here Mao Tse- tung diverged from the European pattern to follow his own knowl-edge of the Chinese countryside. Borders be-tween countries in Europe are fortified, they are no place for new regimes to start. In China, the strength of a warlord decreases as you gain distance from his capital. In the border lands between warlords of different provinces, the Chinese Communists organ-ized peasants for self- defense. Some areas thus founded have held for eighteen years. Mao Tse- tung's military strategy also dates from this period. In the Chu- Mao combina-tion, from which grew the Communist arrn-ies, Chu Teh was the experienced military man. But it was Mao, the Hunan school-teacher, whose keen analysis supplemented Chu Teh's military knowledge and developed the theory of their joint strategy. It is the theory by which the Communists survived through eighteen years of warfare against Japanese invaders and Chiang Kai- shek. It may be condensed as follows: " When the enemy comes, he is stronger than we. He has good arms, arsenals, foreign support. If we thus fight and are beaten, \ ve are lost. If we fight and repel the enemy this is also not victory, for we have used up ammuni-tion while the enemy can return with more ammunition. We can only count it victory if we surround the enemy, crush him, and capture rifles, bullets, and men. " So when the enemy comes, let him come, A M E R A S I A , J U N E N I N E T E E N F O R T Y - S E V E N If he wants this or that city, let him have it. Our army should retire and disperse where the enemy cannot find us. We get news every-where from the peasants. We shall fight only when conditions are favorable to us. Every such battle must be short and decisive, we must win every battle. The war itself is pro-tracted, it is won by securing and organizing the long- enduring support of the peasants. When the living force of the enemy is worn down, then we go into counter- attack- but still very carefully- to take back cities and territory." The results were crystallized in the Seventh Congress, which they called " The Congress of Unity and Victory." " There was a great sense of achievement," says Lu Ting- yi. " that 1,200,000 comrades, separated by many lines of battle, could think their way through to a joint estimate of their past experiences and their future oath." L It was at that congress, after that two years' discussion, that Mao Tse- tung was at last elected chairman, though he had been recognized leader for ten years. It was at that congress that many past leaders' poli-cies were so thoroughly discredited by the long discussion of what they had cost the Communists, that they would have gone down in disgrace, dropped from the Cen-tral Committee and perhaps from the party, had not Mao intervened to save them. " Those comrades who have made mistakes," he said, " no matter how costly and grievous, if they admit their mistakes honestly, and if they have analyzed their mistakes and learned from them, are better leaders than men who are untried." * * * s INCE the leadership of Mao Tse- tung developed, the Chinese Communists do This strategy is so different from tradi-tional warfare that many foreign military experts dismiss it as " guerrilla war." One can hardly apply that term, however, to the encirclement in January 1947 of three and a half brigades of Chiang's best men in Shantung, an engagement in which seven thousand of Chiang's men were reported killed and wounded and twenty thousand captured with their weapons. The Commu-nists distinguish sharply between their smal-ler local guerrilla units, and their regular armies, which can however, at need dissolve into smaller groups. These groups are flex-ible yet disciplined and can quickly reas-semble. This strategy is tailoredto fit a t consider that they have made any pro-of defense in a territory where the pe whole- heartedly support the army. It c ip and good policies,~ said L~ ~ i ~ ~ - ~ not be made to fit an aggressive war. It eaking of the period from the Sian incident yet give points to other colonial peo nrough the Japanese war. fighting against a superior foreign foe. " Don't you regret setting Chiang Kai- shek The bitter test of the Long March r at Sian?" is a question often asked of Mao Tse- tung to leadership. " Withou Communists, since Chiang is attacking leadership, the completion of the Long them now. In the Sian incident of Decem- March would have been impossible," say the ber 12, 1936, Chiang Kai- shek and his staff Communists today. But it was only ten years were forcibly detained by the officers of later, in April, 1945 at the Seventh Party two of his armies, and were only set free Congress, after eight years of anti- Japanese after considerable negotiation in which Chou war, that Mao Tse- tung was formally elected En- lai, representing the Communists, urged chairman. The Chinese Communist Party, that Chiang be released. Some Communists which by that time had grown to 1,200,000 at the time opposed this policy, notably members under his leadership, discussed for Chang Kuo- tao, who afterwards became a two years their party history, in all their far- member of Chiang's secret police. All the flung organizations across the battle- lines. present leaders of the Communist Party, led T H E T H O U G H T O F M A 0 T S E - T U N 0 by Mao Tse- tung, urged the release of Chiang and still think that they were right. " It was the only way to unite China against the Japanese," explains Lu Ting- yi. The Communists out- guessed Chiang in the agreement they made to fight in the Japanese rear, organizing peasant resistance into partisan bands. Chiang assigned them this task, expecting them to be annihilated; it was a job in any event that his Kuomin-tang armies could not do. As the Japanese penetrated further into the interior, the Communists got more and more territory in which to organize the Chinese people's resistance to the invader. This is the foun-dation of their widespread territory today. Mao Tse- tung's book on " Protracted War" ( July 1938) was his first work that in-fluenced thinking outside the Communist ranks. It was military and political analysis of hig- h q- u ality, the most important book of its kind to appear in China during the war. became current among erican military experts. The studied by the Japanese high com- China. " We know from captured ments," Liu Hsiao- chi told me, " that panese, after reading it, considered se- tung the greatest Far Eastern strate-me the book was written, most n China despaired of final victory. A talked of swift victory, to be won rate gamble, a tremendous coun-ensive, which if it failed, would mean te defeat for China. Chiang's view was t times he talked of a quick other times he clearly e of America, Britain, war. Mao Tse- tung pro-hinese people, if sufficient-mate," whose length and severity would de-pend on the extent of unity among the Chi-nese forces, but in which Chinese resistance would eventually wear down the Japanese; ( 3) a victorious counter- off ensive. The book charted so accurately the path that the war actually followed that today it reads less like prediction than history. " The New Stage," published in October 1938, continued the analysis of the " Pro-tracted War'' with special reference to the beginning of the " stalemate stage." Its pri-mary purpose was to make detailed proposals to the Kuomintang for cooperation against the Japanese. Three forms of cooperation were suggested: that the Communists might join the Kuomintang; that, if this was not allowed, there might be joint committees; failing this, there might be frequent con-ferences on emergencies. The proposals came to nothing, for the Kuomintang was growing increasingly reactionary, passing regulations against all non- Kuomintang parties and peo-pie's organizations. Pessimism grew in China in 1939. Since the Kuomintang, now centered in Chung-king, did almost nothing against the Japa-nese, the Japanese left Chiang alone in the interior, and concentrated on mopping up North China and the coastal areas. The Kuomintang grew more oppressive; elements in the Kuomintang collaborated with the enemy. Was China then a lost nation? In such a situation Mao Tse- tung wrote his " New Democracy" in 1940. It was a clarion call. China, he said, was not lost. There were great reserves of strength in the Chinese people. Even if the Kuomintang turned reactionary, even if it turned traitor, the Chinese people would win victory, both in their war of resistance and in their revo- . lution. The book then analyzed the road to victory, the methods by which victory might be hastened; it set forth the form of gov-ernment that could best lead the people to victory and to prosperity after the war. Not the Kuomintang dictatorship, not a socialist A M E R A S I A , J U N E N I N E T E E N F O R T Y - S E V E N government by the Communists, not the old forms of democracy from the developed capitalist lands, but a " New Democracy'' a coalition government of all revolutionary classes. The " New Democracy" bases itself on an analysis of the character of the Chinese Rev-olution, and its place in the present stage of the " world revolution," which has, in the USSR, reached the socialist stage. China has not the conditions for socialism; its revolu-tion is the democratic revolution, which in European countries in the past was led by the bourgeoisie in their struggle to establish capitalism. The democratic revolution must also establish capitalism in China, but, be-cause the world is in a new stage, and be-cause China is a semi- colonial country and because of the existence of an energetic Communist Party, this capitalism will not be the old form of capitalism, under the rule of the bourgeoisie, but a " new capitalism" controlled in the interests of the vast ma-jority of the people. The democracy also will not be of the old type, in which the capital-ists are in control- nor will it be a workers' may be regarded as a sequel to " New De-mocracy'' applied to a later period. By this time Mao Tse- tung felt able to state with confidence: " In the entire period of the bourgeois- democratic revolution, in a period of several dozens of years, our gen-eral program of new democracy will remain unchanged." The Chinese form of Marxism was established; it had its theoretical base, its practical experience, its program for the years to come. " New Democracy" was also published in Moscow both in Russian and in English. The Soviet reviewers recognized it as a new " Marxist classic," applicable not only to China, but to similar semi- feudal, semi-colonial lands. It seems highly likely that the theories of Mao Tse- tung's " New De-mocracy" influenced the forms of govern-ment that have arisen in parts of post- war Europe. N the five years that followed the writing 6f " New Democracy," great changes took place in the world. The war widened to volve the Soviet Union and then the dictatorship establishing socialism, as i nited States The entrance of America into USSR. It will be a " New Democracy" j'o e war with Japan did not lighten the diffi-administered by " all revolutionary classe ulties of the Chinese Communists. It did workers, Peasants, P ~ ~ ~ and Y - ~ t ~ J~ apan~ to m~ ove a~ ny tr~ oops ~ out o, f such capitalists as oppose feudalism an th China. Chian Kai- shek eign imperialism. got American weapons, and became more " New Democracy" marked a turning- aggressive toward the Chinese Communists. in China's revolutionary thinking and years 1941- 42, after America entered enced the revolutionary thought of the ar, - were for the Communists their most For the Chinese Communists, it beca It period, in which the Yenan Border barn's for all future policies, from 1940 till Region itself was attacked from the north now. On it was based the form of govern- bv the Japanese and from the south by ment in the Liberated Areas, including the Chiang Kai- shek. famous " three- three" system by which t h e T h L t h o u g h t of Mao Tse- tung, during this Communists, even in areas that they might period, turned towards many inventions. easily dominate, confine themsdves to one Under his leadership the Chinese Commu-third of the government positions. After five nists learned to " disperse even more com-years of testing, the thesis of " New Democra- pletely" and so to penetrate into the enemy's cy" was expanded in Mao's report to the securest regions. They devised a very wide Seventh Party Congress, in April 1945, in the organization of the peasant militia, unpaid, work " On Coalition Government," which fighting with very primitive weapons, but 170 T H E T H O U G H T O F M A 0 T S E - T U N G cooperating with the regular armies of the Communists towards effective victory. The " production movement" arose, to make the army and government as self- sustaining as possible. " Labor exchange brigades" were promoted to increase the output of the farms. Two books by Mao Tse- tung appeared during this period: " Problems of Economy and Finance,'' which outlined the policies that enabled the Yenan Border Region to survive both the blockade and the war; and a book usually called " Remaking of Ideol-ogy" but which might better be called : " Rec-tification of the Three Styles," which deals with methods of study, methods of party work, and methods of literature. This was part of a campaign within the party to get away from the dogmatic, pedantic, narrow approach, and to base policies and methods on concrete knowledge. One or two quotations from the latter book indicate what Mao was driving at and give a flavor of his style: " Marxism- Leninism has neither good looks nor magic; it is only very useful. There seem to be a lot of people that think it is a sort of charmed medicine with which one can easily cure any disease. Those that take it as dogma are that kind of people. We ought to tell them that their dog-mas are more useless than cow- dung. For dung can be used as fertilizer, while dogmas cannot. Comrades, you will know that my purpose in talking like this is to give the dogmatists a great shock and awaken them. . ." " What then is the condition of those students that graduate from schools that are completely severed from practical activities in society? Such a one is considered a man of knowledge. But first of all, he does not know how to till the soil, secondly, he does not know how to work in a factory, thirdly, he does not know how to fight in battle, fourthly, he has no knowledge of office work. . . . All he has is knowledge from books. Can such a person be considered an all- round intellectual? I think not. He can at most be con-sidered a semi- intellectual . . . , " Books have no legs; they can be opened and shut at will. To read books is the easiest job in the world. It is much easier than cooking a meal or slaughtering a pig, for when you want to catch hold of the pig, he will run, when you slaughter him, he will squeal, while the book on the table can neither run nor squeal but lets you handle it as you like. . . . What an easy job! So I wish those that have only book knowledge and no practical experience would understand their own shortcom-ings and be more humble. . . . " On the other hand, if comrades who have done practical work misuse their experience, this is also harmful. Their rich experience is very val-uable but should they rest content with it, it is quite dangerous. They should understand that their knowledge belongs to the perceptive sphere, and that they lack rational or generalized knowl-edge. . . . Their knowledge has no theoretical foundation and is therefore incomplete. . . . " Thus we see that there are two kinds of in-complete knowledge. It is only by the blending of the two that comparatively complete knowledge can be created." In the same essay, Mao Tse- tung has this to say on criticism: " We must bear in mind two principles: ' to make an example of the past so that we shall be more careful in the futurey; and ' to cure the disease and save the patient.' We must expose all errors committed in the past, analyzing and cri-ticizing scientifically and showing no favors to friends, so that each one will be more careful in the future and so do his work better. . . . But the exposal and criticism is done as a doctor treats his patients, with the purpose of curing the disease and not of killing the patient. . . . To attempt to cure him at one stroke or by beating him all over is no way to solve the problem." This bit from " On Coalition Government," is recommended to all organizations: " A room should be constantly dusted or it will be covered with dust. Our face should be regularly washed or it will be dirty. This is also true of the ideology of our comrades and the work of the party, which should also be constantly cleaned. ' A running stream does not smell and a door-hinge will not be moth- eaten' means that germs and worms are dispersed by continuous move-ment." A M E R A S I A , J U N E N I N E T E E N F O R T Y - S E V E N These examples show the clear, pungent style, close to the Chinese peasant, in which the thought of Mao Tse- tung finds expres-sion. * * * A FTER reading what I have so far writ-ten, Lu Ting- yi summed up for me Mao Tse- tung's thought on the Chinese Revolution under four heads. I. China is at present a semi- colonial and serni- feudal country. Her bourgeois-democratic revolution began after the first World War when the Socialist Soviet Union already existed and the Chinese proletariat was already politically awake. This condi-tions the present stage of the Chinese Revo-lution as an anti- imperialist and anti- feudal revolution, led by the proletariat, with the peasantry as the main force and with parti-cipation of other broad social strata. The revolution establishes a " new de-mocracy," and not the old forms of democ-racy nor yet socialism. Therefore one should have no illusions about quick transition to socialism, but should whole- heartedly pro-mote the democratic revolution. Without the leadership of the working- class, the peasants' struggles must fail, but there is no fear of such a struggle developing beyond the power of the workers. While the peasants form the " main revolutionary masses" there are also very broad social strata- the petty bourgeois, the liberal bourgeoisie, forward- looking land-lords and other patriotic people- who dc-mand democracy and who are especially will-ing to struggle against imperialism. There must be a correct approach to all of these. Since China is a vast country. serni- colo-nial, semi- feudal, under domination by sev-eral powerful, rival imperialist countries and by native feudal forces as well, it follows that her economic and political development is marked by disunity and unevenness. This makes the development of China's demo-cratic revolution very uneven, and its na-tion- wide victory requires a protracted and tortuous struggle. However, bases of armed revolution may first be established and main-tained in vast regions where the enemy's rule is comparatively weak. Such a base can be established in a secluded section even dur-ing periods of revolutionary ebb. With this as a starting- point, the nation- wide triumph of the democratic revolution can come about through a tortuous process of struggle. 11. Military struggle constitutes the main form of the political struggle. Its two basic problems are: army- building and strategy and tactics. The army must be a people's army of a new type, fundamentally different from armies of warlords, fighting for the people's interests in all its aspects. It never fights for the personal interest of a warlord or a petty clique. It has the triple task of combat, mass work, and production. Its relation to the people is expressed by the phrase " support the government and love the people," With-in the army there must be a democratic life, good relations between officers and men, and a voluntary yet authoritative discipline. It must have a correct policy to disintegrate enemy forces and win over war prisoners. Strategy and tactics must admit the ene-my's superiority in strength, the y m y be-ing large and we being small. It is under such conditions that ways to defeat the ene-my must be sought. Hence the enemy's de-fects and our own strong points must be thoroughly exploited, and there must be full reliance on the power of the masses of the people for our success, survival, and growth. When our armed forces are small, and the enemy's superiority is unequivocal, we must use guerrilla warfare. When regular forces have been established there must be simul-taneously the organization of regional armies and local militia so that the mobile warfare of the regulars will be coordinated with widespread guerrilla fighting of regional and local forces. Armed struggles should go hand in hand with non- military struggles. In mil-itary operations we are for quick, decisive battles and against protracted battles, but T H E T H O U G H T O F M A 0 T S E - T U N G the war as a whole is a protracted one. In battles we oppose " beating the many with the few"; we are for " beating the few with the many." 111. " From the people and to the people" is the all- inclusive political directive. To guarantee this there must be close organiza-tional ties between the Party and the non-party people, and intimate connections with-in the Party between leadership and rank and file. must carry on an ideological roneous tendencies. Mean-strict democratic central-be maintained. Special attention with due regard to the vast Chinese Revolution in space, variety of social strata- to uring correct relations be-ew members, local people military and civilians, one er, one department and an-principles the Chinese Com-of two million members, iso-other by long periods of le to achieve unprecedented ithin the Party and between e broad masses of the people. arxist- Leninist dialectical material-od of thinking used. None of policies are either copied based on piece- meal experi-ethod of thinking opposes atlsm and empiricism. He em-ocates the study of theory but " there is no right to speak with-ding." His policies are based on both the domestic and the inter-tuation, and of the experiences of Revolution, especially those of evolution of 1925- 27, as inter-ialectical materialism. views have not yet appeared in book form but have been expressed in several inter-views- two were given to me last August1- and in an official statement on the " Post War International Sit~ ation," p~ u t out by the Communist Party's chief of information. Lu Ting- yi, on New Year's day 1947. Mao Tse- tung takes issue with the widely current idea that antagonism between the Soviet Union and an Anglo- American bloc is leading to war. " This idea is only a smoke-screen which American reactionaries blow up to hide the more immediate antagonisms," he said to me last summer. " These are be-tween the American imperialists and the rest of the capitalist world." He analyzed these conflicts in some detail and said : " Very soon the British people will begin to ask themselves: ' Who is it that oppresses us? Is it the USSR or is it the United States?' " In the months since then, the thought of important groups in Britain has moved stcad-ily in the direction Mao foresaw. The official analysis of the international situation, issued by the Chinese Communist Party on New Year's day 1947, sees a world-wide struggle developing between the forces of " anti- democracy," and the growing " world democratic might." The victory in the anti-fascist war has stimulated the growth of the people's democratic forces everywhere, but they are now being attacked on a world scale by the anti- democratic forces, whose " central fortress" is the imperialism of the United States. In the other capitalist and colonial countries, the reactionaries " turn traitor," and sell out the interests of their respective peoples to American imperialism, becoming " running- dogs of American imperialism." Chiang Kai- shek is given as an example. " The American reactionaries have a heavy burden," said Mao to me with a smile last autumn. " They must sustain the reactionaries of the whole world. And if they cannot sus-tain them, the house will fall down. It is a 1. See AMERASIAA, pril 1947, pp. 122- 126. 2. Published in Political Affairs, March 1947. house with one pillar. There are many pa-tients with one doctor. And the disease of these patients is incurable. Even penidlin will do nothing for them." All over the world, therefore, the demo-cratic forces, in resisting the reactionaries of their respective nations, find themselves also in conflict with American imperialism. A united front against American imperial-ists begins to form on a world scale. It con-sists of the democratic people of America, the people of other capitalist countries, and the people of colonial lands. It includes all social classes, " workers, farmers and patriotic elements, and advocates of peace among the bourgeoisie." ( One need not note how far this departs from traditional Marxism.) Its growth is seen in the new democratic regimes in Eastern Europe; in the leftward advance of Great Britain and France; in the leftward trends among peoples in Germany? Italy, Japan; in the growth of wide people's strug-gles in colonial and semi- colonial countries with China at the head; in the development of democratic forces in Latin America; in American strike movements and the " Wal-lace incident." These are the world's imme-diate struggles, rather than any conflict be-tween the capitalist world and the Soviet Union. The USSR is a " main pillar" of the " world democratic might," but is not a direct participant in these immediate struggles. This new line- up is seen as a " new page in world history," which will last from the end of World War Two " down to the day when stable and lasting peace of the world is ensured." For the reactionary forces are " outwardly strong but hollow insideu-" pa-per tigers," as Mao said to me last summer. The struggle will be long and tortuous but is sure. With such a world view in mind one should read Mao Tse- tung's New Year's greeting, issued over the Yenan, radio on January 1, 1947, at a time when the Yenan Border Region was invaded, when Chiang Kai- shek occupied more than 100 Commu-nist cities and 179,000 square miles of their territory, when the world outside China wor-ried over a possible Third World War. " In 1946 throughout the postwar world, the side of light waged victorious struggle against the side of darkness. And in postwar China also the side of light waged victorious struggle. . . . In the postwar world and in China, a very great peo-ple's movement developed for peace and demo-cratic liberties. . . . These movements must of necessity move towards victory; there is no power that can bring them to a halt. " In the year 1947 the worldwide front of the people of all countries, including China- the front against the aggressor policy of America- will de-velop rapidly. The movement of the Chinese peo-ple for democratic liberties will obtain even more important victories than those of 1946. This will cause conditions in China to undergo a change beneficial to the restoration of peace and the independence of the nation. . . . " At present the Kuomintang authorities have not shown any slightest intention towards peace. . . . But in the not distant future the light of liberty will surely illumine the vast reaches of our ancestral homeland. . . . Within the next few years an independent, peaceful, democratic new China, will surely establish a firm foundation." To many people these words will sound incredibly optimistic. But file them away. Mao Tse- tung's predictions have been right so far.


Strong, Anna Louise


[New York : Amerasia, 1947]




Lewis and Clark College


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China - Republic of China 1911 - 1949

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Strong, Anna Louise, “The Thought of Mao Tse-Tung,” ASIANetwork IDEAS Project, accessed May 18, 2024,